Origins and Organizational Structure
Posted: January 26, 2009
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) was founded in the late 1980s with the help of the Pakistani government (which also opposes the Indian presence in Kashmir) as the armed wing of the Markaz al-Dawa wa al-Irshad, an Islamic social welfare group that helped recruit volunteers to fight alongside the Taliban. LET, which has been active since 1993, allegedly received funding and instruction from Pakistan's intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), and in exchange LET agreed to target Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir. This funding ended in January 2002 when Pakistan banned the group and froze its assets, following the United States designation of LET as a terrorist entity a month earlier.
After the ban of LET, the group renamed itself Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and posed as a charitable oragnization to evade sanctions. In April 2008, the U.S. designated JUD as an alias of LET, which blocked all property and interests in property of JUD. In January 2009, JUD reportedly change their name to Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal, but they appear to still have the same leaders and ideology.
The alleged founder and leader of LET, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 by Pakistani authorities following the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008. Saeed, who admits to being the head of JUD but denies any connection to LET, is currently under house arrest.
Inspired by Osama bin Laden, LET continues to maintain close ties with Al Qaeda. Intelligence services have discovered that, before its camps were destroyed by the United States in 2001, Al Qaeda frequently hosted and trained LET operatives. Conversely, since the destruction of those camps, LET has hosted Al Qaeda trainees and other Islamic militants, including Shahzad Tanweer, one of the suicide bombers in the July 7, 2005 London Underground attack and convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. Additionally, senior Al Qaeda leaders, such as Abu Zubeida, have been arrested at LET compounds.